In the last six months, shares of Monster Beverage are down 20%. On Thursday, Monster Beverage held an analyst meeting and updated investors on its business. The company provided an update on the fourth quarter and a look into 2017.
In June 2015, Monster Beverage struck a long-term deal with Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report) in which Coke took a 16.5% stake in the company and transferred its energy drink business to Monster in return for Monster's non-energy drink business. Coke became Monster's preferred distributor. Coca-Cola paid Monster $2.15 billion in cash to complete the deal.
The transaction was supposed to be a win-win for both companies, but so far it doesn't seem like it's done much of anything for Monster shareholders. Coca-Cola is supposed to help Monster scare up some business in China and India, two markets that it wasn't able to crack by itself.
But, at the meeting, the company admitted any big return from China was years away because of the high start-up costs and heavy promotion expenses needed to enter the Chinese market.
Back in September, I thought shares of Monster were pretty scary. Investors have been spooked by media reports of poor retail sales of the company's products and by Java Monster production issues and difficulty getting the Mutant drink on retailer's shelves. In addition, case volume estimates continue to shrink as the brand's sales slow. U.S. case volume growth estimates have been slashed from 8% to 6% and international case volume estimates are now 10%, down from 13%.
Fourth-quarter revenue estimates of $724 million, up 12.3%, look high. Last year, the fourth quarter grew 6.7%. For 2016, analysts expect the company to earn $1.24 on revenue of $3.01 billion. Next year, the consensus is looking for revenue of $3.36 billion, up 11.7%, and earnings of $1.50.
To me, those estimates look high. I think the energy drink business is slowing faster than expected and analysts will be forced to cut estimates into next year. For example, in 2015 revenue grew just 8.9%. While analysts are expecting the Coca-Cola deal to jump start growth, I didn't hear anything at the analyst meeting that would drive sales to double-digit percentage growth.
The company is expected to report earnings on Feb. 23. At the recent quote (including Friday's 3% bounce following the analyst meeting), the stock is trading at more than 29 times EPS estimates of $1.50, which I consider generous for a company whose time may have passed. I don't think Monster can scare up a much higher stock price.
-- This article was updated to note the rise in Monster's shares on Friday, Jan. 13.